State officials are warning Iowans to be wary of scams aimed at people who are facing foreclosure on their home. Some Iowans who’ve had trouble paying their mortgage say they’ve been conned into paying more than a thousand dollars to companies that promised to modify their loans, and then did nothing to help. Chris Sill is a counselor with a non-profit housing agency in Spencer.
“I probably don’t see a week that goes by that I don’t get a call or an e-mail from somebody asking me if this is legitimate. The solicitations are just hammering everybody,” Sill says. “Matter of fact, my wife and I refinanced our house four months ago and we started getting hammered with solicitations, so they’re everywhere.”
Sill says homeowners should never make an advance payment to a company that promises to help solve their mortgage difficulties. “If they’re asking for money, don’t do it,” Sill says. “I think the other red flag is if they give you a timeline — if they have an expiration date on it. There’s usually no expiration date on help.”
Over the past two-and-a-half years, more than 11,000 Iowans have called the Iowa Mortgage Help Hotline, about a third of whom were facing foreclosure. About 2.8% of mortgages are in foreclosure — far less than the national average — but that is the highest level in state history according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.